Alice Babs
Nilson in 1940
Background information
Birth nameHildur Alice Nilson
Born(1924-01-26)26 January 1924
Västervik, Sweden
Died11 February 2014(2014-02-11) (aged 90)
Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1939–2004

Hildur Alice Nilson (26 January 1924 – 11 February 2014), known by her stage name Alice Babs, was a Swedish singer.[1] She worked in a wide number of genres – Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera. While she was best known internationally as a jazz singer, Babs also competed as Sweden's first annual competition entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1958. In 1972 she was named Sweden's Royal Court Singer, the first non-opera singer as such.


After making her breakthrough in the film Swing it, magistern! ('Swing It, Teacher!', 1940),[2] she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish-language films. Despite being cast as the well-behaved, good-hearted, cheerful girl, the youth culture forming with Babs as its icon caused outrage among members of the older generation. A vicar called the Babs cult the "foot and mouth disease of cultural life".[3]

Nilson in the Eurovision Song Contest 1958, representing Sweden
Alice Babs with the Swe-Danes in 1961
Nilson (centre) with the rest of the Swe-Danes in 1961

A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington began in 1963.[2] Among other works, Babs participated in performances of Ellington's second and third Sacred Concerts which he had written originally for her. Her voice had a range of more than three octaves; Ellington said that when she was not available to sing the parts that he had written for her, he had to use three different singers.[4]

In 1963, her recording of "After You've Gone" (Fontana) reached No. 29 on the British New Musical Express charts.[5]

In 1972, she contributed to the recording of "Auntie", a Dutch song commemorating the beginning of British Broadcasting Corporation's radio broadcasts 50 years before.

Personal life

In 1943, Babs married Nils Ivar Sjöblom (1919–2011). Their three children are Lilleba Sjöblom Lagerbäck (born 1945), Lars-Ivar (Lasse) Sjöblom (born 1948), and Titti Sjöblom (born 1949).[6][7]

Alice Babs and daughter Titti Sjöblom in an advertisement for Toy chewing gum, 1960

Between 1973 and 2004, Babs and her husband resided in Costa del Sol, Spain, while still working in Sweden and internationally. In their later years, they returned to Sweden.


She was awarded the Illis quorum by the government of Sweden in 2003.[8]


Babs died of complications from Alzheimer's disease at age 90 on 11 February 2014 in Stockholm.[4][6][7][9]


Year Title Role Notes
1938 Thunder and Lightning Flower Girl Uncredited
1940 Swing it, magistern! Inga Danell
1941 Magistrarna på sommarlov
1941 Sjung och le Short
1942 Vårat gäng Alice, Bergendals dotter
1942 En trallande jänta Inger 'Babs' Jansson
1944 Eaglets Marianne Hedvall
1945 Skådetennis Short
1946 Det glada kalaset Anita
1947 Song of Stockholm Britt
1952 Drömsemestern Herself
1952 H.C. Andersens sagor Storyteller
1953 Kungen av Dalarna Herself
1953 I dur och skur Greta Norman
1953 Resan till dej Gun Karlsson
1955 Swedish Girl [de] Karin Pettersson
1956 Symphonie in Gold Singer
1956 Swing it, fröken Alice Lind
1958 Musik ombord Ulla Wickström / Ulla Winther
1959 Swinging at the Castle Inga 'Trollet' Larsson (final film role)
2008 Alice Babs – Swing´it (orig. Naturröstens hemlighet, Documentary
2013 Alice Babs förlorade rättigheter (Alice Babs' Lost Rights, Documentary


Recording of Alice Babs produced by the Swedish record label Sonora

Alice Babs' discography includes more than 800 recordings since her debut with Joddlarflickan in 1939. The following is a list of her recordings available on CD, listed chronologically from when they were originally recorded.


  1. ^ Cook 2005, p. 27.
  2. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Alice Babs: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  3. ^ Reney, Tom (14 April 2014). "Alice Babs: The Rare Delight Of You". Biography. New England Public Radio - Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Mosey, Chris (25 September 2014). "Alice Babs: Vi Minns Alice Babs (2014)". Musical reviews. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  5. ^ Chris Davies. British & American Hit Singles, Batsford.
  6. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (14 February 2014). "Alice Babs, Who Sang for Ellington, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Swedish singer Alice Babs dies aged 90". 11 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Regeringens belöningsmedaljer och regeringens utmärkelse: Professors namn". Regeringskansliet (in Swedish). January 2006. Archived from the original on 2 November 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  9. ^ Alice Babs död, Dagens Nyheter 11 February 2014 (in Swedish)


  • Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 27. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.

Further reading

Awards and achievements Preceded byDebut entry Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest 1958 Succeeded byBrita Borgwith "Augustin"